Xiaoying Zheng – China

Linked with Classical Music Struggles to Be Heard.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “I wish to present wonderful music and peaceful life to the public and popularize exquisite classical music to the best of my ability” … and: “A symphony which represents Western music, is a most complex yet splendid artistic form” … “Compared with China’s big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, Xiamen, with a population of only 400,000, has done very well”.

Xiaoying Zheng - China rogne r80p.jpg.

Xiaoying Zheng – China

She works for China’s Central Opera Theater (named in China today).

Zheng Xiaoying is China’s first female opera and symphony orchestra conductor, and is the first Chinese orchestra conductor to take the international opera stage. She is now the Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra. Zheng has been awarded a variety of prizes in acknowledgment of her outstanding art achievements on the following four aspects:

I. Rebuilding of the Central Opera Theatre’s orchestra from ruin after the Cultural Revolution and excellent opera conducting:

Zheng has often been invited to give performances on important occasions in China since 1978. She has conducted many Chinese and foreign operas. She also offers tremendous support to the creative works of young composers and assists in the trial performance and spread of Chinese works. Her conducting is considered enthusiastic, conscientious, exquisite, and inspiring.Zheng has been invited more than 30 times to lead opera and symphony concerts or give lectures in more than 20 countries like USA, Russia, Japan, Australia, and European countries. She is the first Chinese conductor to take the podium in a foreign opera theatre and continues to receive such invitations even now. Zheng’s performance on the international stage has changed prejudices against Chinese and oriental women.

II. More than 50 years of brilliant teaching achievements:

Zheng is considered one of the most experienced conducting professors in China. Most of her students have taken the podium in China and abroad and gained wide acclaim. They have frequently ranked top in international conducting competitions held in USA, France, Italy, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Portugal.

III. Voluntary popularization of exquisite classical music knowledge by her Music Loving Women’s Orchestra:

The Cultural Revolution disrupted music education in China. Afterwards, superficial music became very popular. Zheng volunteered to introduce world classical music in various ways in 1978. Come wind or rain, Zheng always reaches the theatre one hour before a performance and gives a 20-minute lecture on music knowledge, and on the theme of the opera music to be performed. This is known as the Zheng Xiaoying Mode. Zheng started the Music Loving Women’s Orchestra together with several like-minded women musicians at the end of the 1980s as a voluntary effort to introduce exquisite classical music that had almost been forgotten in China. The orchestra brought a breath of fresh air to the Chinese stage where superficial music had been the rage. The orchestra has given over 200 performances at schools and factories in six years at the end of the 1980s. At the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, she led the group to play Beethoven’s Ode to Joy before tens of thousands of women representatives from all over the world.

IV. Setting up of China’s first philharmonic orchestra, not run by the government, the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra, which is the pride of Xiamen:

In 1998, Zheng was invited to Xiamen, a scenic coastal city in Southeast China, to found China’s first non-government philharmonic orchestra, the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra. She had just undergone surgery for bowel cancer. Zheng is the Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the orchestra. The Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra had more than 30 members from more than 10 conservatories when it was first founded in September 1998. Zheng led the members to stringent exercise every day. The orchestra has grown to more than 70 members after seven years. It has presented more than 140 Chinese and foreign symphony concerts and given more than 500 performances.

The Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra was invited to visit three cities in Japan and achieved great success in the spring of 2002. In October of the same year, it was appointed the only accompanying orchestra and accompanied all the concertos in the Fourth International Junior Tchaikovsky Music Competition, winning praise from the international appraisal committee. In 2003, it played Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 choral, in which 240 chorists participated in Xiamen; it toured 25 cities in 8 provinces.

Zheng and the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra have contributed in great measure to enhancing the people’s cultural life and the development of China’s orchestra. (1000PeaceWomen).

Xiaoying graduated from the China Central Conservatory of Music. In 1960, she traveled to the Moscow Conservatory of Music in Russia where she studied conducting theory and opera and philharmonic music. She returned to China two years later, successfully conducting the Italian opera “Tosca” and “Ai Yi Gu Li,” a popular Chinese opera. Since her return, she has been chosen to be the chief conductor for a number of national concert performances, conducting operas such as “Traviata,” “Flower Protecting God” and “Madame Butterfly.” In 1981, Xiaoying was named China’s Excellent Conductor by the Ministry of Culture, and she was awarded the Honorary Medal of French Literature and Arts in 1985. She has won the title of China National Advanced Musicians four times and has traveled all over Asia, Europe and the United States to give concerts and lectures. (full text).

In 1998, Zheng Xiaoying, then chief conductor of China’s Central Opera Theater and dean of the Department of Conducting at China’s Central Conservatory of Music, was invited to return to her hometown and founded the first symphony orchestra funded by local enterprises. The original 30-member orchestra has now grown to 80 members, all from famous musical groups and institutes across the country. “Xiamen is virgin territory for the symphony, yet it promises to be fertile land.” The almost 70-year-old conductor has high expectations for her hometown, the same as when she took advanced studies at Russia’s National Conservatory of Music in Moscow. (full text).

link: Xiaoying Zheng on China ABC.

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